I think everyone has friends that you can go a while without seeing and when you do see each other again, it’s like you’d never really been apart. I have a few friends like this in the perinatal mood disorder (PMAD) world. And that circle keeps growing each time I attend the annual Postpartum Support International (PSI) conference.
In the past 13 years, I have attended 7 of what my dear friend, Pec Indman (co-author with Shoshana Bennett, PhD, of Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression & Anxiety), refers to as “family reunions” and with good reason! We are like family. For me, it’s my tribe. My very first conference was in New Jersey back in 2006, followed by Kansas City (KS) in 2007, Pittsburgh in 2010, Seattle in 2011, Minneapolis in 2013, Philadelphia in 2017, and Portland (OR) four weeks ago. I generally feel a natural affinity to other PSI members because we are all for the most part postpartum mood disorder (PMD) survivors and/or are PMD advocates. Nearly all work with PMD moms/families as a medical or mental healthcare practitioners, and that’s where I’m different from them. But my mind keeps going back to it as a possibility of switching gears one day down the road.
The 32nd annual PSI conference took place June 26-30 this year in Portland, Oregon. At this conference, I heard some of what I already learned about previously and some new things I hadn’t heard much about previously–e.g., EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) and brainspotting. One of the keynote speakers was Lee Cohen, MD, director of the Ammon-Pinozzotto Center for Women’s Mental Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cohen is a national and international leader in the field of women’s mental health, and is widely published with over 200 original research articles and book chapters in the area of perinatal and reproductive psychiatry.
The fact that there were over 700 attendees over the course of the 4-day conference was awesome! It gave me the goosebumps! We were excited to see an unprecedented increase in the number of attendees, which can only mean one thing: more people than ever before know about PSI and its mission and share the mission to effect change when it comes to postpartum outcomes. This is awesome! Now, if only we can get more OB/GYNs and nurses to attend! Find a way to give them some sort of continuing ed credits….an additional bit of motivation to come to these conferences! Being able to properly recognize, diagnose, and treat PMDs is still an unnecessarily huge hurdle for all too many doctors around the country.
At this conference, I sat side by side at the bookstore at 7:30 am on each of the first 2 days of the conference with a young man from Zimbabwe. We were both volunteers for that early morning shift. Linos was one of only a handful of men who attended the conference, the first representative from that country to ever attend a PSI conference, and one of the ones who traveled farthest to get to Portland. You can tell he was on a mission to effect change in his country. One of his top missions this year is to help raise funds for Zimbabwe’s first PSI Climb Out of the Darkness event. Climb Out of the Darkness is the world’s largest event for raising awareness of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, while raising money and building community.
I just donated to Team Zimbabwe.
Go Team Zimbabwe!
Funds from this Climb Out will go towards the 2nd international Society for Pre and Post Natal Services (SPANS) conference on Maternal Mental Health in Africa in September 2019. The conference theme this year is “Incorporating Mental Health into Maternal, Paternal and Child Health to improve outcomes.” Linos and Team Zimbabwe hope to bring participants from many parts of the continent to further African awareness and to improve the accessibility, affordability, timely and essential maternal and paternal services, as well as assist in the raising of awareness of Infant, perinatal and paternal to improve the health of mothers, children and the families at large. Every penny of your generosity will ultimately make a huge impact on the welfare of families impacted by maternal mental health issues. Thank you very much.
You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.
If you or someone you know is suffering, PSI can help.
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